The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has written to the HSE seeking specific details about preparations for the coronavirus.
INMO general secretary Phil ní Sheaghdha told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show that they want to know about protective clothing, de-gowning procedures and the updating of guidelines and training.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said she was reassured that the HSE was talking about the virus and that guidelines had been issued. However, she pointed out that ICU beds are already in constant demand and there is not space available since there is already 100% occupancy of hospital beds.
There are isolation cubicles in some of the country’s newer emergency departments, she said, but they are constantly full.
Specific teams, properly trained on the latest guidelines are necessary, she added. Units need to be prepared and it is important that staff are aware of latest procedures with regard to de-gowning.
On the same programme Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College, Dublin said that the HSE should be prepared as it is possible that there will be cases of the coronavirus in Ireland as had happened in other EU countries.
He expressed concern at the lack of specialised isolation facilities given that the existing system “is already bulging at the seams.”
“It is going to be tricky as the main way to control it is to restrict travel from the country of infection.”
Prof Mills pointed out that the death rate is not as high as with Sars and the deaths to date had been of people with underlying conditions. “Not everyone who gets this is going to die. It is not the same medical emergency that ebola was.”